Mumbai: Haji Ali coastal buffer increased, worried residents move court

Mumbai: Haji Ali coastal buffer increased, worried residents move court
Residents, property owners and developers around the prime Tardeo locality of south Mumbai find themselves in a bind after the Haji Ali shoreline marked as 'sea' in official maps, a 'bay' as the coast of earlier descriptions from a departure.

With the final published Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) marking the Haji Ali coastline as 'sea', the buffer zone where no construction is permitted as per Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification up to 500 meters from the high tide line .

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That 500-meter radius in that housing project Residents and property owners said that several government documents earlier described Haji Ali as a 'bay', under which definition the buffer zone is 100 meters from the high tide line.

For areas under the definition of "bay", a 2011 Coastal Regulations Zone (CRZ) notification had reduced the restricted buffer zone to 100 meters from the high tide line, from the earlier 500 meters.

With the CZMP redefining their coastline, representatives of an industrial estate and some other buildings near Haji Ali has moved to Mumbai High Court, the state authority in fact showed the same part as a 'bay' while seeking the environmental clearances for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) Coastal Road Project The first phase of the proposed 29-km coastal road project passes through Haji Ali.

The Jaywant Industrial Co-operative Society Limited and the owners of some other buildings in the area have filed a writ petition in Bombay High Court against the Haji Ali coastline as 'sea' to mark the decision. Their next hearing is scheduled in December.

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The industrial estate is located on Tardeo Road, opposite the Central Mall at Haji Ali and falls within 500 meters of the high tide line.

An official from the Society told The Indian Express, "The State CZMP is not taking a consistent stand. For the coastal road project, all documents issued by the state and center and all clearance provided by them and even the tender documents show Haji Ali as a 'Bay'. For state government project or policies you want to show as a bay, and for citizens, it is otherwise. "

"All government officials have announced Haji Ali as a bay while referring to the Coastal Road project. Then why is this not mentioned in the CZMP? All permissions for coastal road project has been achieved by showing Haji Ali as a Bay. "

The buildings close to the Heera Panna building opposite, near the Noorani restaurant, will be affected as will buildings further south, close to Mahalaxmi

"We raised our objection when the draft CZMP was published but it was not tackled. Our suggestions and objections were not considered, "said another Jaywant society office bearer.

When contacted, Principal Secretary (Environment) Anil Diggikar said, "He has to study the issue before commenting."

Meanwhile, the coastal mapping has given relief to areas including Ballard Estate, Khar, Bandra, Girgaum by relaxing the buffer zone up to 100 meters.

Four years ago, the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority had marked Mahim and Backbay areas as 'bays', after which CRZ buffer zones reduced from 500 meters to 100 meters, many buildings to be constructed.

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